Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Indoor Grill: A Quick Review of Features and Performance

Updated: Jan. 03, 2024

No more lugging a heavy propane tank to the backyard or cancelling gatherings due to rain!

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I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a lazy (or efficient) cook. I like to keep it simple, and if anything is too hard to set up, clean or use, I’m out.

Luckily, at Family Handyman, we like to test products that make your life easier and more efficient. And since the latest Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro Grill and Griddle dropped on my doorstep like magic, (kidding, it was just the mailman), I knew I had to try it. 

Electric grills are great for apartment dwellers that can’t barbeque over open flames or people (like me) that don’t want to mess with charcoal, heavy propane bottles, or a natural gas hook-up for an outdoor kitchen (but still love the flavor of grilled food).

I’ve owned two other basic grills and loved the results—for the most part. My first indoor grill was great for cooking fish or brats outdoors, and I enjoyed cooking burgers and grilled vegetables indoors during a snowstorm.

The downside? Clean-up was difficult because of the size and attached electronics. It didn’t fit in the sink to rinse, and the “non-stick” surface became very sticky and gross over time. Next, I bought a replacement grill with a flippable griddle to cook pancakes, quesadillas and grilled cheese. It now lives in the basement due to my lack of counter space.

My kitchen is awkward and small, and as a result, I’ve never jumped on the air fryer bandwagon. But with a seven-in-one appliance, sacrificing counter space might just make sense. Let’s see if the Ninja Indoor Grill is doomed for the dreaded basement, or if it’ll earn its keep on the kitchen counter. 

What is the Ninja Indoor Grill?

The Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro Grill and Griddle is a large-capacity indoor electric grill (and so much more). This seven-in-one appliance is designed to grill, griddle, air fry, bake, roast, dehydrate and broil. And at only 16 square inches, the Ninja takes up less counter space than a microwave and tucks nicely under the cabinets, even with the lid open.

It comes with a grill grate, a flat-top griddle, plus a crisper basket for air frying, baking, dehydrating and roasting. You can even grill with the lid open or closed!

Meat lovers will appreciate the optional smart thermometer, which assists in cooking your food to your desired doneness. Whether you like it rare or well done, the thermometer takes care of those details for you.

The control panel allows you to choose your cooking method, doneness and cook time. The LED panel tells you when the pre-heat is ready to add food and lets you know when to flip the food. Experienced chefs will appreciate that it heats up to 500 degrees to give your food a nice sear. 

The quick start guide is helpful for beginners like me. It’s a comprehensive book outlining the time, temperature, preparation and instructions for practically everything you can cook in the Ninja indoor grill. And recipes too!

Ninja Indoor GrillSheri Kaz/Family Handyman

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Product Features

The Ninja Indoor Grill comes with three pans. The non-stick grill grate has a generous 9-inch-by-13-inch cooking surface, the large 12-inch flat-top griddle accommodates up to four sandwiches, and the 4-quart crisper basket can hold up to two pounds of french fries. That’s a lot of fries! And even better? The components are ceramic coated, dishwasher safe and PTFE/PFOA-free.

The space-saving features go beyond the compact footprint of the Ninja Indoor Grill. The pans stack together and store inside the Ninja when not in use. 

How We Tested It

Being new to such a sophisticated kitchen gadget, I was a little intimidated when I opened the box and found a 61-page quick-start guide and an owner’s guide. However, the guide is packed with helpful charts, cooking times and recipes with photos. I breathed a sigh of relief. 

My original mid-century kitchen is tiny with one 3-prong outlet, so I ditched my countertop microwave (which I rarely use) to make room for the new Ninja. I instantly had more counter space. Buh-bye, bulky microwave!

I had two beautiful large pieces of walleye fish that I wanted to grill on the Ninja, along with some asparagus. (For non-Midwesterners, walleye is a premium fish found in our Great Lakes and a special treat for Friday night fish fries).

Let’s Get Cooking!

The quick start guide has a chart for different food types and cooking methods, so I followed the guidance for tilapia, cooking it on the griddle pan. The walleye had skin on it, unlike a tilapia filet, but I wasn’t worried. I’ve never cooked walleye before, but I liked the idea of grilling fish on the flat-top griddle for easier clean-up—and it was more simple to clean!

Searing Mode

I even flipped the walleye for a quick searing on top. I didn’t use the thermometer, because I know how to tell when fish is done (unlike my steak cooking skills). The fish turned out great!

Grilling Mode

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any canola oil or spray (which Ninja recommends), so I melted coconut oil on the stovetop to roll my asparagus in. I laid the asparagus next to the lean fish on the griddle and they grilled up well. 

A few days later when I harvested more asparagus, I fired up the Ninja, sprayed some canola oil on the asparagus, sprinkled sea salt and put it on the grill rather than the griddle. Because of the slope of the grill plate, my slippery asparagus continually fell into the grease trough and I had to fish them out. As a solution, I put some spice cans under the legs to raise the front of the machine so the food would stay in place. FYI, I didn’t have this problem when I used the griddle.

Air Fry Mode

I split the walleye in two so that I could also test the air fryer mode. Fish fry Friday is a tradition here in the Midwest, and although I’m not a fan of deep-fried food, walleye is irresistible. I was excited to see how the walleye would work in the air fryer. 

Again, I’m a lazy cook, so I like one-pot dishes. I certainly didn’t want the fish to get cold while cooking the potatoes, and luckily, there was plenty of room for both. The fish was crispy, but the potatoes didn’t get as golden as they would in my oven (speaking of, check out the new Ninja Woodfire outdoor oven). This was probably because I didn’t add any oil (whoops). If I had, I’m sure they would have turned out just fine.

Pros

  • Grills food indoors
  • Seven ways to cook
  • Space-saving design
  • Can sear frozen food
  • Easy to use once you get the hang of it
  • Dishwasher safe non-stick baskets and grills
  • Comprehensive user guide with recipes 

Cons

  • Some users reported faulty thermometers
  • Food can slide into the drip pan

FAQ

Can you use foil in the Ninja Foodi Smart grill?

Yes, just like an outdoor grill, you can use aluminum foil in the Ninja Indoor Grill.

What Other Reviewers Had to Say

“Great product,” Amazon customer Mary McClain simply states. “I barely use my stove anymore, this does everything and so fast.”

Ashley S., says, “So far everything I have cooked in this has turned out perfectly. I use the probe really only for steaks and sometimes chicken. We cook ribeyes and every one of them have turned out absolutely perfect. I like to cook complete meals for the two of us as well. Usually some sort of protein, a veggie, and a starch or just two veggies. I do this on the air crisp mode mostly. They all fit and just go in at different times. It is also super easy to clean so far. It is dishwasher safe but I still hand wash the pieces. I LOVE THIS GRILL!”

Gray Wolf says, “For a veteran of the older model Ninja IG551, this model is superior. This new model IG651 has design improvements in the cooking, a new griddle feature, and more responsive controls and knobs instead of problematic touch screen buttons. I have already grilled a great family meal with it and I’m very pleased. Cooking, grilling, griddling, dehydrating, baking, broiling, etc is easy with this product.”

Final Verdict

I love the Ninja’s compact all-in-one design because it doesn’t take over my kitchen. It’s smaller than the little microwave that was taking up space on my counter and is much more useful. Whether you’re making breakfast, grilling steak or dehydrating mushrooms (my next project), the Ninja Smart XL Pro has all the latest and greatest features in an all-in-one package. 

The versatility of this indoor grill is astounding. Its capacity is substantial. It will take care of dinner for six—easy. I’m forewarning you, there might not be any leftovers.

It takes time to understand how all of the functions work, but the starter guide is invaluable for beginners. You can cook more than one type of food at the same time in the same cooking mode. In my experience, this grill heats evenly, just as the manufacturer promises (my former grills had obvious cold spots).

This has been a game-changer for me. My stove is tucked in an awkward corner and it’s aggravating to use. Now, I’m actually excited to cook again and I’m having fun experimenting and expanding my culinary skills. 

I haven’t tried to bake bread in the Ninja and I probably never will, but other users have (and made roasted whole chickens!) with great results as I’ve witnessed on YouTube. Ninja is constantly evolving, and the added grilling features on the 7-in-1 Smart Grill make this a must-buy.

Where to Buy the Ninja Indoor Grill

Ninja Ig 651 Foodi Smart Xl Pro 7 In 1 Indoor Grill Griddlevia merchant

The Ninja Foodi XL Pro Grill and Griddle is available on Amazon and Ninja KitchenIt takes time to fall in love, but the more I use this Ninja Indoor Grill, the deeper my love grows.

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